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Dalsa update

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In April, Canadian CCD and CMOS chip manufacturer Dalsa, opened its Dalsa Digital Cinema Center in Woodland Hills, Calif. The facility, formerly Broadcast Plus, was purchased by Dalsa late last year, and is designed to serve as the home base for the company’s new Origin 4K 4:4:4 uncompressed digital cinematography camera, (in addition to renting everything from NTSC to HD cameras).The camera, which cost roughly $6 million to develop, uses a 35mm CCD image sensor chip instead of the 2/3-inch sensors in most high-end video cameras. This enables filmmakers to use standard PL-mount film lenses. In addition, it features an optical viewfinder rather than the LCD viewfinders of video cameras.For storage, the company is using Maximum Throughput’s Sledgehammer hard drive storage arrays. A 5RU rack can store about 300 minutes of footage. The camera is tethered to the array via an InfiniBand cable.While the company still faces a challenge in terms of postproduction (with a camera that can generate as much as 10 Gbits per second of data), John Vieth, director of R&D, Dalsa Digital Cinema, says that the demands aren’t really any greater than doing a 4K film scan.“You can take the output of this camera into the DI process as though it was coming off a film scan,” says Vieth. “So we’re eliminating that film scanning step. We can basically take our recorder, plug it into the big socket at the back of the post house and load a digital negative as a .DPX file.”“We recognize that the Origin camera represents a very significant shift in the thinking about digital cameras. It’s not digital video; it’s digital data. It’s more like film than it is like video. So we’ve designed the facility with a training element as well,” says John Coghill, vice president and general manager, Dalsa Digital Cinema. “We basically have a miniature post facility here, with basic editing and color correction, so crews can learn how to deal with the wide dynamic range of the camera.”At the Dalsa Digital Cinema center, crews will be able to test out the camera, view their dailies, and do some basic editing and color correction in a new a 34-seat screening theater equipped with a Christie CP2000 2K theatre. The company has wired its prep room with a 30 TB network and a 120-node renderfarm for real-time processing of the digital negative data.“What’s different about this is it’s not digital video so you do not need hardware specific types of tools for doing color correction,” explains Coghill. “There are a lot of these software color tools coming to market, so the environment that you would be working with is data-centric. It’s a digital intermediate-type of environment, so you have servers and disk drives as opposed to hardware specific tools with certain functionality.”Coghill reported that the company has been testing Autodesk’s Discreet Lustre, Iridas’ SpeedGrade as well the FilmLight Baselight system for software-based color grading.The company caused quite a stir when it first showed up at NAB two years ago talking about an uncompressed 4K camera.“The strategy was to go to NAB for a couple of years to get this message out about data-centric workflows and processing digital negatives, so that other service providers and equipment manufactures in the industry could start thinking about what they had to bring to market,” explains Coghill. “So it’s all nicely gelling together. These high-end software-based color correctors that can handle 4K, 16-bit images are just coming to market and facilities with 1,200-node render farms and 700 terabytes of storage are sitting here ready to go.”And perhaps the most important feature is its exposure latitude of 12.5 stops. This enables cinematographers to maintain the detail in highlights and shadows, where with video cameras shades of black are crushed, and whites are clipped.In fact, according to Coghill, “There’s actually more exposure latitude with this camera than there is in film.”

Written by Scott Lehane

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